Shawn Ray Diet and Workout Plan

The Shawn Ray diet emphasized the consumption of complex carbs before, and after workouts. Shawn took a simple approach to nutrition during his professional bodybuilding days. He mostly focused on protein intake, and didn’t count calories or macros. Continue reading for a detailed look into the Shawn Ray diet and workout plan.

Who is Shawn Ray?

Shawn Ray is a retired professional bodybuilder, fitness icon, and author. He was born in Placentia, California and turned pro in 1988. Shawn competed against some of the best bodybuilders during his career, like Lee Haney, Dorian Yates, and Ronnie Coleman. His best win was at the 1991 Arnold Classic, where he came in first place.


Height5′ 7” (170 cm)
Competition weight205-210 lbs (93-95 kg)
Off-season weight225–240 lbs (102 – 109 kg)
Year of birth1965

Shawn Ray Diet

Every bodybuilder needs to eat the right kinds of food and the correct amounts of food to fuel their workouts. Food provides energy for the body, helps the muscles recover, and helps them grow.

Shawn says there were certain foods he avoided while dieting. His favorite meal is Hibachi chicken, so he never ate the teriyaki sauce that came with it.

Day of Eating

Meal 12 Hibachi chicken breasts, a baked potato, broccoli, and lemon (for flavor)
Meal 2Salad with 2 cans of tuna (packed in water), spinach, romaine lettuce, 2 hard boiled eggs, cucumber, tomatoes, and shredded carrots
Meal 32 New York steaks, with a large serving of steamed broccoli
Meal 4Large trout with lemon (for flavor) and a baked potato
Meal 5Pineapple, cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydew melon, and grapes (post workout)
Meal 612 egg whites and steamed broccoli, or asparagus

During his bodybuilding days, Shawn had a unique approach when it came to diet and nutrition. He didn’t know how many calories he was eating, or his body fat percentage. Shawn focused on his protein intake, and eating complex carbs before and after his workouts.

This simple approach worked for him, as he was able to pack on muscle and decrease body fat. When Shawn was looking to lose more body fat, he would always increase his cardio and cut back on complex carbs.

You will always lose some strength on a diet, which is why it’s important to measure progress by how you look in the mirror. When looking to bulk up, Shawn would wake up earlier and eat an additional meal in the morning.

Shawn Ray Workout

Chest Workout

This chest workout was a few weeks before the 1999 Mr. Olympia. During this stage, Shawn was focusing on building thickness in the upper chest. This means he was lifting heavy weights to maintain his size. Shawn liked pushing his body and lifting heavy weight. During the off-season he could bench 175 lbs dumbbells at an incline.

  • 1st exercise: Incline dumbbell bench press 5 x 8-12
  • 2nd exercise: Flat bench press 5 x 6-12
  • 3rd exercise: Flat dumbbell chest fly 5 x 10-15
  • 4th exercise: Standing cable fly 5 x 10-15

Back Workout

Shawn liked to begin each back workout with some form of pull-ups. You can see below he picked wide grip pull-ups – which gets the lats engaged. You want to make sure your back if fully warmed up before pulling heavy weight. Training the lats will also help develop the overall physique, as you will have a thin waist, with a thick upper body.

  • 1st exercise: Wide grip pull-up 5 x 5
  • 2nd exercise: Dumbbell row 5 x 6-12
  • 3rd exercise: Close grip cable curl 5 x 8-12
  • 4th exercise: Barbell row 5 x 8-12
  • 5th exercise: Wide grip lat pulldown 5 x 10-15

Shoulder Workout

This is another quick workout that showcases Shawn’s training philosophy. There were only 4 exercises, with 4 sets each. The entire workout only took around 25-30 minutes. But you should know that Shawn is 100 percent focused when it comes time to train. He doesn’t joke around or talk. And even though this was a short workout, he would exercise 2-3 times a day.

  • 1st exercise: Standing barbell overhead press 4 x 12-15
  • 2nd exercise: Cable lateral raise 4 x 12-15
  • 3rd exercise: Incline dumbbell rear delt fly 4 x 12-15
  • 4th exercise: Machine shrug 4 x 12-15

Leg Workout

If you’re looking for an intense leg routine, try out this workout below. Shawn liked to begin each leg day with some light movements, so he could get some blood blowing in his legs. Once he was fully warmed up, he would move on to much heavier weight. As you get older, warming up and stretching the legs are much more important.

  • 1st exercise: Leg extension 4 x 10-15
  • 2nd exercise: Leg press 4 x 8-12
  • 3rd exercise: Barbell stiff leg deadlift 4 x 8-12
  • 4th exercise: Barbell walking lunge 4 x 10-15 steps
  • 5th exercise: Standing calf raise 4 x 12-15
  • 6th exercise: Seated calf raise 4 x 12-15

Arm workout

Most people don’t dedicate an entire workout just to training arms. Traditional splits are usually chest/triceps and back biceps. These are such common muscle group combinations, because one is push movement and the other is a pull movement. But when training at least twice a day like Shawn did, he had the time to dedicate an entire session to arms.

  • 1st exercise: Single arm preacher curl 4 x 12-15
  • 2nd exercise: Dumbbell triceps extension 4 x 12-15
  • 3rd exercise: Alternating dumbbell curl 4 x 12-15
  • 4th exercise: Triceps rope pulldown 4 x 12-15

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